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‘Houses of the Holy’ was released on 28th March 1973 (the same week as Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’) to a less than uncritically enthusiastic reception, the first Zeppelin album not greeted by universal acclaim.

The reason for this lukewarm reception was that the band refused to do ‘more of the same’ and decided to experiment a bit with different styles, and the dyed-in-the-wool hard rockers didn’t like it.

The result is a mixed bag, with a few really stand-out songs: ‘The Song Remains the Same’ and ‘Dancing Days’ are amongst Zeppelin’s best rockers, and ‘No Quarter’ is an eerie dark mood-piece in a minor key which, though rarely performed onstage, remains one of the band’s most distinctive numbers. ‘Over the Hills & Far Away’, the love song ‘The Rain Song’ and the closer ‘The Ocean’ are also good.

Where the album comes unstuck for some fans is with the musical experiments ‘The Crunge’ and the reggae-rhythm ‘D’yer Mak’er’ which granted, are not among Zeppelin’s best output. But they at least demonstrate the band’s multi-dimensional musical reach, and their refusal to be pigeon-holed.

Some compositions laid down in the 1972 recording sessions (including the title track ‘Houses of the Holy’) didn’t make the final mix, but were re-worked and later released on the 1975 epic ‘Physical Graffiti’ - though in the meantime were performed regularly by the band onstage.

Overall ‘Houses of the Holy’ is an uneven but nevertheless very good album, with some fine songs.

So how about the 2014 `2-CD Deluxe Edition'? Worth buying, or not?

The first disk contains the original album content, the improvement in sound dynamics evident here as throughout this 2014 remastering series. Crisper and cleaner than previous CD releases - none of which have been bad BTW - this mix rivals the original vinyl album for warmth and immediacy.

The material on the second disk is more interesting than that on the recent LZ4 release. Alternate takes of all the original album tracks except `D'yer Mak'er (`Jamaica' - get it? It's a reggae rhythm) feature. Some are `karaoke' versions with no vocals; some have extra instrumentation and overdubs, but all sound genuinely different.

You get the three-gatefold album cover-artwork based closely on the 1973 12" original, but not quite identical: same trick as with the Deluxe release of IV, in that the original rear cover-art is replaced by a purple-psychedelic filtered image of the front. The 16-page booklet is pretty good though, with some nice colour & monochrome shots of the band.

All in all this is the version to buy of you want to add a hard-copy of this album to your Zeppelin collection.
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This is a 'grower'. Buy it and play it a few times! You'll find that it becomes more impressive with each playing.

Like many critics, my first feeling, when I heard 'Houses of the Holy' was that the material wasn't as strong as Led Zep II, II and IV, and that, in the hands of a lesser band, it would be dismissed as a 'so-so' rock album. They were wrong and I was wrong. Led Zeppelin were growing and this, their first wholly self-written album, was part of that process.

So, from an album dismissed by some, songs like 'The Song Remains the Same', 'The Rain Song' and 'No Quarter' went on to become Led Zep standards.One of my favourites, 'Over the Hills and Far Away' is one of those tracks that, once heard is not forgotten and quickly establishes itself as a masterpiece.

Houses of the Holy was a great success in its day. Fact is, it repays repeated playing and it grows on you.

Led Zep remains one of the most able rock bands ever. Houses of the Holy is well worth owning and playing often.
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on 28 October 2014
One word of caution for completeists - the gatefold album cover is not reproduced in full anywhere in this package - a bizarre omission when you consider that the band were legendarily meticulous about the attention given to the album artwork!
Instead, the blue 'reversal', which is an unwelcome gimmick in this context, is substituted - why?

The full art spread is inexplicably also missing from the inner booklet too - for me this detracts from what should have been the definitive version of a fine LZ album.

The music itself is as you would hope - personally, I think the actual sound of the recordings lack some of the 'warmth' of the fourth album which tends to leave some of the tracks here, particularly thise recorded on the mobile, sounding a little too clean and clinical, but it's faithful to the original album. The second disc is of interest to LZ collectors but there's nothing that will have you wondering why it wasn't included in the final album - those goodies were saved for Physical Graffiti.
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Another mighty sonic upgrade to the Zep catalogue. Once again the new versions allow insight into details that had been lurking in the shadows on previous outings.

Once again a curiously attentive, yet incomplete approach to the sleeve. The banner that was designed to preserve the modesty of the folks on the cover, particularly so for the US market, is here and yet the full gatefold has been bisected in favour of that dozy reversed colour front cover. So, thumbs up for the banner and thumbs down for the incomplete gatefold(which apparently took months to hand colour- prephotoshop, remember, and was never fully finished as deadlines had to be met).

This album, again in a curious twist, has the best out takes. It is great to be able to hear The Song Remains as an instrumental because the amount of guitar work, overdubs just amazing. JPJ's hyper active bass lines shine through proving him to be as good as anyone ever has been on bass.

Over The Hills sounds fab, again in outtake form. Jimmy starts the ball rolling on a single 6 string acoustic and then comes in on overdub using a 12 string acoustic. Sublime! When the full electric band come in it is with a knock out hefty crunch worth buying this 2 disc set for alone.

My fave Zep track, No Quarter is a stunner, again as an instrumental. Powerful, brooding, heavy and yet with further proof of the breadth of talent and musical abilities of Mr Jones and Mr Page. John Bonhams drums....well they were just a force of nature. The piano has benefitted most here, sounding more realistic than ever before. The keyboard work here is absolutely sublime. The mood of this song, with or without vocals, is powerful, dark, brooding and reminiscent of a walk through dark leaf strewn hardwood forest. Perfect autumn/winter music.

D'yer Maker has Bonzo out in the hall at Headley Grange again, pounding away at a serious pace. Superb work from him and JPJ, although Zep doing a mock reggae seems to be the straw for some folks.

So, despite not getting the rave reviews that other Zep albums got at the time, I love this and for the open eared I fully recommend getting the 2 disc version for these first class out takes.
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on 27 April 2016
Initially, my copy of Houses had a terribly distorted version of The Ocean (and "no" it wasn't the distortion that was intended by J Page or that was always included as some folks point out - this was extremely noticeable and ruined one of my favorite Zep songs). After 3 tries, I finally received a distortion-free copy of The Ocean only to realize No Quarter had issues. The copy I received from Amazon UK is perfect. Weird that the other pressings have issues, but my problem is resolved.
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on 6 November 2014
The remastered album sounds just great. Like the previous re-releases the scrub up applied really does display what a powerful rhythm section Bonzo and JPJ were. The kit in particular to my ears sounds wonderful throughout the album and the bass playing a revelation. This probably marks a sea change in the way Zep albums were produced, it's a very clean, dry sound it has non of the density of it's immediate predecessor and not so much of a sense of a band playing in a room, the little timing glitches on Black Dog and Misty Mountain Hop would have stood out like sore thumbs treated in this way.

I remember listening nonplussed the day this was originally released; having doted on zep 4, and seen them début numbers from this at blitzkrieg volumes at the Southampton Gaumont I simply couldn't understand what the Crunge and Dyer Maker and the sped up vocals were all about. I was still mystified having heard the session out-takes subsequently released on Physical Graffiti as to why these tracks got the nod; what were they thinking? Why the sped up vocals on the title track? a metaphor for the pace and momentum of the subject matter or a pitching issue?. Conspiracy theories? last track on Vol 4 Plants vocal is the only thing not slowed down in order to give the rhythm track added weight, and then first track Vol-5 Planty is the only thing sped up! Wouldn't it have been great to have a booklet that was informative?? Have you seen the way Deep Purple and Jethro Tull treat their legacy and fan base? Complete alternate versions, wonderfully informative booklets full of anecdotes, memories etc. I've made the point before that if Page could have nicked just one (more?) Idea from Randy California's Spirit he could have looked at the excellent re-releases of their classic albums and used them as a great model as to how to make re-releases, (particularly as we've now paid for most of this at least 3 or 4 times) worthwhile and good value for fans

The extras here I find laughable and the booklet pointless, like a lot of Zep fans I'm not bloody nine, and don't need a bunch minuscule photos of them with their tits out etc. I've played the 7 cuts (actually I got bored during the instrumental no quarter and skipped ahead) and doubt I ever will again, really why bother with an additional CD? everything of interest here could have gone on a single CD.
I've made the point on the other remasters that we know there was loads of stuff from 1,2 and 3 which has since found it's way onto box sets to snare completists. It would have been a deserved treat for fans to have seen these included on the companion discs as appropriate, the obvious inference is that in order to shift units of the execrable Coda when they get to it, they'll bung them on that as a kind of Odds and Sods exercise. I appreciate that Graffiti used everything from the HOTH sessions but given the obvious rehearsal that went into these numbers I don't believe that there aren't "really" alternative takes of these numbers somewhere.

So the cash harvest goes on for Mr Page and Co. I really really recommend you buy the remastered disc, don't bother with the deluxe edition
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on 25 July 2015
A few people commenting on the artwork. Have to say I'm not fussed on that point . Always thought CD artwork was a waste of time as too small but cherished my LPs. CD sounds great to me and enjoyed the "extras". Have always thought this was one of their best albums and for the price would certainly recommend buying.
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Robert Plant once ruminated that Led Zeppelin waited 5 months before releasing their 5th album "Houses Of The Holy" because they wanted to get the album artwork right. And when he saw the 1990s CD reissue in its 5" puniness minus that "HOTH" title bandana that came with 1973 originals - he wondered was it worth the wait? Well the album is back in a brand new 2014 reissue and with its title wraparound restored - properly remastered this time and sporting some rather cool 'extras' too. Here are the crunges, quarter oceans and songs that remain (roughly) the same...

Released October 2014 - this review if for "Houses Of The Holy" by LED ZEPPELIN - the 2CD DELUXE EDITION on Atlantic 8122795827 (Barcode 081227958275) which breaks down as follows:

Disc 1 (ORIGINAL ALBUM - 40:59 minutes):
1. The Song Remains The Same
2. The Rain Song
3. Over The Hills And Far Away
4. The Crunge
5. Dancing Days [Side 2]
6. D'yer Mak'er
7. No Quarter
8. The Ocean

Disc 2 (COMPANION AUDIO Unreleased Studio Outtakes - 36:13 minutes):
1. The Song Remains The same (Guitar Overdub Reference Mix)
2. The Rain Song (Mix Minus Piano)
3. Over The Hills And Far Away (Guitar Mix Backing Track - No Vocal)
4. The Crunge (Rough Mix - Keys Up)
5. Dancing Days (Rough Mix With Vocal)
6. No Quarter (Rough Mix With JPJ Keyboard Overdubs - No Vocal)
7. The Ocean (Working Mix)

For a supposed DELUXE EDITION the 16-page booklet is adequate at best - colour live shots, the inner sleeve reproduced in the centre pages and a few basic reissue credits on the last few pages. For such an iconic band and prestigious catalogue - you think Atlantic could have pushed the boat out a bit more. It's noticeable also that the track list stick-on sheet that was pasted on to the rear sleeves of I, II and III is now on the outside of the shrinkwrap for you to place wherever you want. It's also irritating because you can barely read the writing on it. But to the really good news...

Like "Led Zeppelin IV" (that also came out Monday 27 October 2014) the much-lauded JIMMY PAGE remaster is properly excellent and a definite improvement on what we had before. Right from the first few seconds of "The Song Remains The Same" the guitars rattle your speakers with renewed power and British machismo. But then I get to what I've been after for years (and surely many fan's favourite track on the record) - "The Rain Song" in gorgeous remastered form. It is hissy for sure in certain places but the acoustic guitars and JPJ's Mellotron are more to the fore (and in a good way). The Plant vocals and Page Guitars sing now on "Over The Hills And Far Away" while I still laugh at the final "Where's the confounded bridge?" gag at the end of the rhythmically awkward "The Crunge" (a song that stills sounds to me like its chancing its arm). The Side 2 openers "Dancing Days" and the silly "D'yer Mak'er" both pack a huge wallop (especially Bonham's drums) while "No Quarter" is hissy for sure during that warbling Mellotron intro and onwards but you forgive it because it's a Zeppelin I love (as I suspect many do). It ends on "The Ocean" with its witty intro - another rocker that sounds like it's on the way to somewhere but never really getting there. Then you're hit with a real surprise - a storming Disc 2...

After the slightly irritating extras on "IV" (the so-called 'works in progress') - these outtakes are actually quite brilliant. While you'd be hard pressed to hear the differences in either "Dancing Days" of "The Crunge" - some of your favourite songs are stripped of their vocals and allow the listener to concentrate on the great chucky rhythms and clever guitar parts. The two that leap out are "Over The Hills And Far Away" and an astonishing almost Prog version of "No Quarter" with John Paul Jones giving it some fabulous keyboard flourishes and arrangements. The "Minus Piano" Mix of "The Rain Song" sounds lovely too with its gorgeous acoustic guitar playing and JPJ's Mellotron underpinning the song like a well thought out string arrangement. I'm kind of shocked at how good Disc 2 is actually.

Somehow as the years have passed "Houses Of The Holy" has been seen as the runt of the Led Zeppelin LP litter - and I'm genuinely glad to say that this reissue makes a strong case for major assessment. Why I almost forgive them that pervy sleeve and the photo of them on the inner gatefold of this 2CD set standing by their LED ZEPPELIN jet with their chests bared for the ladies. Thems was the dancing days indeed boys. Roll on the mighty "Physical Graffiti" next year...yummy.

PS: be careful removing the title bandana - it's snug and will rip easily...
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on 26 August 2015
I don't really hear any improvement over the three other versions I have, packaged slightly different I wouldn't say better.The music is as good as it ever was and I still enjoy playing it, The extra disc was interesting but ill probably never play it again I don't know what I was expecting to be honest.
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on 4 February 2015
The album itself is a wonderful remaster. The bonus material is interesting, if not for hardcore fans. I would only play the bonus album on rare occasions when feeling a bit adventurous...
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